Word Wednesdays!

It’s that time of the week again.  My word of the week is…

vicissitudes pl. n. changes of circumstance or fortune.

Sometimes we all need a little change in fortune.

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Book Review: Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie

So the 21st book in my Goodreads Reading Challenge (and book number 2 on my Summer holidays) was Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie.

‘Emma Tupper is a dedicated lawyer with a bright future. But, shattered by her mother’s death, she fulfills her dying wish by embarking on a month-long trip to Africa. There she falls ill, and spends six months trapped in a remote village thanks to a devastating earthquake. On her eventual return home Emma discovers that her friends, boyfriend, and colleagues thought she was dead and that life has moved on without her.

As she struggles to recreate her old life, throwing herself into solving a big case for a client and trying to reclaim her beloved apartment from the handsome photographer who’s taken over her lease, everyone around her thinks she should take the opportunity to change. But is she willing to sacrifice the job, relationships and everything else she worked so hard to build?

Forgotten is the story of one young women’s life, broken down, reconstructed, and forever altered – a modern twist on the classic tale of discovering who we really are when everything that brings meaning to our lives is lost.’ (Synopsis provided by Amazon)

Emma Tupper is a successful lawyer who has worked hard to be within touching distance of a partnership at her law firm and she has the perfect boyfriend in Craig.  However, her world is crushed when she loses her mother, who has always been her rock.  Her mothers one dream was to travel to Africa, something she was unable to achieve.  She therefore leaves an Africa trip to Emma in her will, something that leaves her a little bewildered as she had never actually asked her mother why this was a dream of hers.  The story that follows is one of self discovery as Emma finds herself stranded in Africa and cut off from her friends, job and life.

This is a chick lit, but not a light and fluffy one as you might expect.  It explores what can happen if you go off the grid and disappear, just to re-emerge expecting life to be as it was when you left.

‘if everything in your life is fucked up, you can change whatever you want.’

Whilst elements of the novel are predictable as you might expect, I liked that not all of Emma’s choices were ones that I had anticipated.  This removed some of the predictability.  There is obviously a love story as you would expect, with both characters having their own issues to deal with before they can be together.

I had expected this book to be a little darker than it actually was.  I would not, however, say that I am disappointed that wasn’t having now read it.  It was a great holiday read that I am more than happy to recommend.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Book Review: Fade Out by Patrick Tilley

Book number 20 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge (and book number 1 of operation summer holiday) was Fade Out by Patrick Tilley.

So I started my holiday with an old school sci-fi novel.  I wish I could tell you where I heard about this book – I know that I read about it on a blog somewhere, but it’s one of those books that I downloaded and then promptly forgot about.

‘Aliens have landed on this earth, and it is time for the human race to prepare itself. When an unidentified object of extra-terrestrial origins arrives on Earth, creating havoc and panic the world over, the question of whether we are alone in the universe is finally answered. But this realisation is only the beginning, for the object brings with it a whole host of questions that neither the world’s governments or military experts are equipped to answer. Is it a danger to humanity, or an innocent explorative device? Focusing on mankind’s reaction to this mysterious object, Tilley illustrates how ignorance can drive civilisation towards the brink of a devastating breakdown.

Fade-Out, a sci-fi novel first published in 1975, looks at the meltdown of society in the face of alien invasion.’ (thanks Amazon!)

The book loosely follows Bob Connors, Special Assistant to the President of the United States of America as he leads a top secret project looking at the reasons for a global ‘fade out’.  This fade out cripples global communications, leaving nations feeling vulnerable to nuclear war as the world loses the ability to track potential enemies.

As we follow Connors through this project, we learn more about him as a character, as his history influences his present.  In addition to character relationships, we also experience the relationship between science and the military.  Whilst this book was published over 40 years ago, these relationships are, I believe, still relevant today.  This is a science fiction novel, but there is very little in it that isn’t believable.  If the scenario in this novel were to happen, you believe that the same hopes and fears would be applicable, along with the same differences of opinion over the way forward.  The novel also highlights aspects of the Presidents role that I had never previously considered.  Firstly, that it can be quite superficial (with a dosage of manipulation thrown in for good measure).  Dinner with the Bodell’s is a great example of this.  In contrast to this, the novel also highlights just how powerful his position really is, as he makes decisions about what his people should and shouldn’t know about the top secret project, thereby controlling widespread panic, but also removing people’s choice when it comes to protecting themselves if necessary.

I am not your typical science fiction reader (although I do love a science fiction movie).  However I’m glad I put aside my reservations about reading a 40 year old science fiction novel.  It’s well worth a read, so give it a go.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Book Review: Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

Book nineteen in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is Wallbanger by Alice Clayton.  The synopsis is as follows;

‘Caroline Reynolds has a fantastic new apartment in San Francisco, a Kitchen Aid mixer to die for, and no O (and we’re not talking Oprah here, folks). She has a flourishing design career, an office overlooking the bay, a killer zucchini bread recipe, and no O. She has Clive (the best cat ever), great friends, a great rack, and no O. Adding insult to O-less, she also has an oversexed neighbour with the loudest late-night wallbanging she’s ever heard. Every moan, spank, and-was that a meow?-punctuates the fact that not only is she losing sleep, she still has-yep, you guessed it-no O. Enter Simon Parker. When the wallbanging threatens to literally bounce her out of bed, Caroline, clad in sexual frustration and a pink baby-doll nightie, confronts her heard-but-never-seen neighbour. Their late-night hallway encounter has…well…mixed results. Because with walls this thin, the tension’s gonna be thick. A delicious mix of silly and steamy, this is an irresistible tale of exasperation at first sight.’ (Thanks to Amazon!)

So, as you can tell, this is not a book to read if you don’t like a bit of naughtiness!  The title and the novel’s front cover are a bit of a giveaway!  It’s not the sort of book I choose to read regularly but I don’t mind a bit of sauciness now and then.   I enjoyed this book for what it was – a bit of light reading with a love story thrown in for good measure.  It is a little sex-obsessed if I’m honest – the entire story revolves around Caroline losing her ‘O’ which at times got a little much for me.  However, I enjoyed reading about Caroline and Simon’s ‘dislike to love’ story – in fact all the characters were likeable, and whilst the story was a little sex-crazed there was a plot to follow.  There are moments in this story that will make you laugh out loud, whilst others will make you cringe.  There are no hidden twists here, what you see is what you get, however sometimes a predictable read is just what you need.  If you enjoy naughty books about hot neighbours, then this is the novel for you!

Rating: 2 and a half out of 5 stars

Book Review: The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard

I have made it to book eighteen, and I chose to read Helen Pollard’s The Little French Guesthouse.  As you may be realising, I do love a novel set abroad and I have a soft spot for France.  So that’s my reason for choosing this novel explained! Here’s the synopsis;

‘When Emmy Jamieson arrives at La Cour des Roses, a beautiful guesthouse in the French countryside, she can’t wait to spend two weeks relaxing with boyfriend Nathan. Their relationship needs a little TLC and Emmy is certain this holiday will do the trick. But they’ve barely unpacked before he scarpers with Gloria, the guesthouse owner’s cougar wife.

Rupert, the ailing guesthouse owner, is shell-shocked. Feeling somewhat responsible, and rather generous after a bottle (or so) of wine, heartbroken Emmy offers to help. Changing sheets in the gîtes will help keep her mind off her misery.

Thrust into the heart of the local community, Emmy suddenly finds herself surrounded by new friends. And with sizzling hot gardener Ryan and the infuriating (if gorgeous) accountant Alain providing welcome distractions, Nathan is fast becoming a distant memory.

Fresh coffee and croissants for breakfast, feeding the hens in the warm evening light; Emmy starts to feel quite at home. But it would be madness to walk away from her friends, family, and everything she’s ever worked for, to take a chance on a place she fell for on holiday – wouldn’t it?’ (Thanks Amazon)

For someone who loves to be swept up in the romance of being in France, this is an ideal novel.  There’s sun, wine, croissants and not one, but two love stories! What marks this apart from other love stories is that this novel does not just include a romantic love story.  This one also includes a love story between two friends who help each other in their time of need.  It is that love story that I really enjoyed in this novel.  Emmy and Rupert’s budding relationship, which is formed when their partners run off with each other, is such a lovely story to follow.  They work together to ease each others pain, with their relationship turning from that of strangers to two close friends who truly love one another.  I also like the fact that this is not a story about a woman who has been wronged – Emmy is a strong, independent woman, who, with the help of her friends is able to find her way.  It is not a romantic love that saves her (although there is some romance!) – it is the love of her friends that helps her to follow the path right for her.

If you like romance and friendship set in beautiful surroundings, this is the perfect book for you.  Find yourself a comfy chair in the sunshine, a good glass of wine and enjoy!

Ratings: 3 and a half out of 5 stars